Sunday, September 19

‘Govt in process of getting all lodging houses registered’

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Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

KUCHING: The government is in the process of getting all lodging houses registered following the implementation of the Tourism Tax effective Sept 1.

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said “a lot of them (lodging houses) now are not registered” but they are taxable under the new law.

“Any lodging houses that are registered are taxable; budget hotels included. I was made to understand that it’s across (the board).

“But a lot of them now are not registered, so that is why there is not much problem now. But then I do know that the exercise to get them registered is going on,” he said when met by journalists after launching the Paint The World (PTW) concert 2017 at the Civic Centre here yesterday.

Abdul Karim feared that new problems might crop up during the exercise to register all lodging houses.

“Because if you want to register small and budget hotels, you have to comply with a lot of requirements, especially by Bomba (Fire and Rescue Services Department). That’s where the new problems will come about,” he pointed out.

As of yesterday, he said his ministry had received no complaints with regards to the implementation of the Tourism Tax. Despite so, he acknowledged there was a bit of confusion on the implementation of the new tax, an area which had to be streamlined.

“But on acceptance of the tax, there seems to be no problem. This is a law which has already been passed in Parliament. It is well accepted, the way I see it. It’s just the mechanism of it,” he added.

As an example, Abdul Karim said foreign travellers who opted for lodging houses seemed to have to pay more compared with those who chose to stay at a five-star hotel. “They are paying much higher than a five-star hotel room because if there are 20 beds, each bed is charged RM10. If there are 20 of them staying at the lodging house in one room, that means it would come up to about RM200 per night whereas the five-star hotel is RM10 per room (per night).”

He opined that this needed “to be tightened up”.

Asked whether Sarawak would continue to fight for more revenue collected from the Tourism Tax, the minister said the state government would handle the matter “behind the scenes with the federal government”, adding it “is not between ministry of tourism (federal) and ministry of tourism (state) but between the state government and Ministry of Finance (Malaysia).”

“We will do it discreetly behind the scenes that we are asking for more. And yes, it has to be one-third or more,” added Abdul Karim.

The federal government proposed equal distribution of the total revenue collection among three regions; namely Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah.

Despite the proposal, Putrajaya in July announced that Sarawak and Sabah would be receiving only RM1 for every RM10 collected from the Tourism Tax.